Nelson Mandela showed us how it was done. How to co-operate for the greater good, without sacrificing respect and dignity and freedom for all. It’s important that we all remember, that as great as he was, as great as Martin Luther King was, as great as Gandhi  was, none of them did it alone. Humankind, really all of creation, is weighted to co-operate for the greater good with respect and dignity. Fear drives us to limiting freedom, whereas generosity of spirit, and faith in the greater good moves us towards embracing freedom and the creative chaos that often accompanies it!

It took the courageous people, who believe in justice for all, all over the world, to demand that Nelson Mandela be freed from prison. Without the global village recognizing and rejecting injustice, Nelson Mandela’s beautiful soul would never have been expressed in a way that showed us all how it is done. It’s important that we remember that we need to take a stand for what is right in this world, to stand up for those that are mistreated, wrongly judged, especially those who are speaking truth to power. It may cost you personally, but it is the right thing to do for the greater good.

Tyranny can exist wherever fearful people objectify one another, effectively stripping the other of their humanity. Once objectified, the need for respect and dignity go out the window. There is no need for co-operation, only subjugation. That never lasts for long though.  People of quiet dignity and self-respect cannot be subjugated, and their humanity shines through for all to see. I encourage you all to find that within yourself. It is where the deepest roots of health reside.

I am reading a wonderful book by Oliver Wendell Holmes. It was published in 1861 and is titled Currents and Crosscurrents in Medical Science. Now, Oliver and I don’t see eye to eye on everything. Indeed, in this volume he has one essay entitled “Homeopathy, and It’s Kindred Delusions”. However, he is a thinking man, who does not blindly follow trends or support a status quo. He’s the guy who said, to paraphrase “if we threw all the medications in the sea, it would be great for humans, but bad for the fishes.” He also said (again paraphrasing) that” if all of the medications on earth magically disappeared all thinking people would return to what we know are the true determinates of health: good diet and lifestyle.”

He also wrote something about freedom, particularly freedom of speech in medicine, and the unique intent (at that time) of the founders of the US government in regards to governance. I want to share it with you, in honor of Nelson Mandela:

But mainly we owe the large license of speech we enjoy to those influences and privileges common to us all as self-governing Americans. This Republic is the chosen home of minorities, of the less power in the presence of the greater. It is a common error to speak of our distinction as consisting in the rule of the majority. Majorities, the greater material powers, have always ruled before. The history of most countries has been that of majorities,-mounted majorities, clad in iron, armed with death, treading down the tenfold more numerous minorities…With us the majority is only the flower of the passing noon, and the minority is the bud which may open in the next morning’s sun. We must be tolerant, for the thought that stammers on the single tongue to-day may organize itself in the growing consciousness of the time, and come back to us like the multitudinous waves of the ocean in the morrow.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

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I am a devotee of healing. I think about it, read about it, study it, sing about, dream about it, you get the idea. Something to do with healing is usually what’s on my mind. I am fascinated by Nature and all of its processes, but particularly those having to do with self-restoration.

In naturopathic medicine we call this the Vis Medicatrix Naturae, or the Healing Power of Nature. It is the core of our medicine, and what differentiates our practice from other healing practices in the US. We are by definition, Vitalists. We reject the Cartesian separation between the appreciation for the mystery of nature and our scientific inquiry. This reminds us that Science is what we know about Nature, so far. Science is the flawed human approximation of the mystery of Nature, and we have only scratched the surface.

In science, the things that are considered laws rather than just theories, are things that are defined by established constants (which are not really constants at all, but which seem to fluctuate around a constant-Nature is contextual, not linear-see Rupert Sheldrake for more). When I study healing I look for what have been constant observations through time and culture. This is why I so often have my nose in old books, and why I emphasize the importance of teaching history, and establishing scholarly departments of history and philosophy in our naturopathic schools. Our medicine should be directed by our understanding of these healing constants. This is not to reject our modern scientific knowledge. It is more information, which leads to a more refined understanding. This is always a good thing. But it is not the only thing. Only looking at the science of the day gives us a “wind whipped” practice. We are constantly being told “this is good.. now its bad”, “that’s ridiculous, oh wait now its gold!” Two recent examples are the concept of “junk” DNA, and fecal implants.

So, what is healing? Healing in humans comes down to proper nutrition and nurturing, and proper detoxification. It takes time and really has little to do with the sudden cessation of symptoms, particularly in regards to chronic disease. The sudden cessation of symptoms is either a miracle or suppression, and miracles are rare, that’s why they are called miracles. Suppressing symptoms only sequesters the cause of the symptoms for a time. It’s a bit like (or maybe exactly like), storing nuclear waste. At some time its going to leak out and cause more harm. Healing happens through timely discharge of irritants. These irritants might be biologic, chemical, metabolic, emotional, Karmic, etc.

Healing can only happen with proper nutrition, and nurturing which inspires the Vis in the direction of healing. It happens in the way that most things happen in nature. It follows the path of a spiral, returning to the same linear point , but at a higher level.

This sounds all very esoteric and theoretical, let’s get down to some practical examples. When people come to me as patients, I feel that my job is to “inspire their Vis”, i.e. increase their vitality. We do this first by changing things in their lifestyle so that they’re drinking more water, getting better quality and quantity of sleep, eating better quality of food, enjoying their relationships and time more. We might also give them some energetic medicines-homeopathy, low dose herbals, love, acceptance, acknowledgement, etc. We will probably also start with some hydrotherapy, which is a profound medicine to increase circulation and promote detoxification. Usually by the third visit with me (I see folks every three weeks at the beginning), they will have a cold, flu, bowel discharge or skin issue crop up. This is the path of healing. It is not pretty or discomfort-free. It involves snot, itching, diarrhea, spitting, hot flashes, fever, sweating, joint pains etc. After the discharge, people will have a period of convalescence, and then feel great. They have moved up the spiral of healing.

Usually people with chronic disease will say to me “that’s the first time in a long time that I’ve had a cold”. I let them know that they will continue to have acute releases of their chronic disease, and that more than likely it will end with some annoying skin issue. Our goal as we move along is to discharge as gently as possible, primarily using contrast hydrotherapy, short wraps (Kneipp) and sauna. For most chronic illness this process of healing usually takes 3-7 years. As we move through the process, the body will cycle through the symptoms its been habituated to, and then the ones that were suppressed. Each time, the old symptoms become less intense, and less frequent, and the suppressed symptoms become more and more peripheral.

The very cool and exciting thing is that the person becomes more creative and content, maybe even downright happy to be alive! They will say they feel like themselves again!! This is a sign of decreased suppression and increased Vitality!!

It’s important to note that without the lifestyle changes of drinking water (2-3 liters/day), sleeping 8-10 hours a night, minimizing poor quality food, and 30-60 minutes of gentle movement/day, it is very difficult to get your patient well. Also, the goal should be to eventually discontinue or minimize supressive medications and supplements, including hormones.

Back to history. When you read the old books, whether its European, American, Ayurvedic, Traditional Chinese, Unani, Tibetan, African, Pacific Islander, this is the process that gets described. It is the way that people heal. The magic bullet of sudden “healing” has been sought after and claimed at one point for all of these times and cultures, but is only folly, just as it is today. Surgery and medicaments will only take you so far. The proper functioning of a well nourished body and soul is what brings health!

In the next installment< I hope to talk about the extracellular matrix, and how all this healing happens on the physiologic level!

 

Let’s face it. Health information is confusing. One day a study comes out and says one thing, two months later, something else. The supplemental calcium they were telling you to take in high doses last year, is implicated in increases in heart disease this year. Fit, long distance runners drop dead at 55, smokers and drinkers live ‘til 100. Organic, not organic? Whole grains were great in the 70’s now they are poison….It’s all so nonsensical.

As a human trying to live a healthy life, and do the best for your children and spouses/partner, and as young alternative healthcare practitioners trying to do best for our clients/patients, we find ourselves running from one health fad, to another. They all sound very convincing, seem to have research behind it, but wait, last decade it was candida messing up our digestion, the next it’s food allergies, now it’s gluten, although it’s morphing back into the bad critters with the emergence of small intestine overgrowth syndrome… AAAAAARRRRGGGHHHH.

Put down the supplement bottle, back away from the “Smart Energetic Waters”. It’s time to get back to some common sense. I recommend that you stop letting the marketing folks determine what you put in your mouth, and how you live your life. Even the marketing folks that disguise themselves as scientists or “natural” health folks. As someone who is interested in health, who loves nature, and wants to live a sustainable life, it’s time for you to take control and use your heart and mind.

One day a few years ago, I was preparing for a job interview. I wanted to define who I was and what my beliefs were, so that I could present myself honestly. Because I’m a physician, part of this exercise involved me defining what my idea of “health” was. I reflected on all of the patients I worked with, all of the discussions I’ve had with colleagues and students about this subject, my naturopathic philosophy, my understanding of nature and ecosystems. But really, in the end it came down to my grandmother.

My grandmother, Blanche Bennett, who lived 103 years, and was vital ‘til an ER doc punctured her lung.  My grandmother, never knowingly ate a “health food”, never “worked out”, snored like a bear, had a non-optimal BMI and cholesterol levels, ate milk chocolate, hated dark chocolate and partook of cocktail hour (Southern Comfort) frequently. Yet she had the memory of an elephant, and the grip of a longshoreman ‘til the day she passed. She had love, sleep and poop in her life. In the future, I’ll share some stories about Grandma Bennett, and maybe Grandma and Grandpa Welliver, too, but for now, Love Sleep and Poop (LSP).

And that’s what it comes down to: Love, Sleep and Poop. The beauty of LSP is that it can be taken simply at the literal level (do you have love in your life, are you sleeping and pooping?) or developed more holistically. “Love” can represent nourishment on all levels, “Sleep” can be restoration on all levels, and “Poop” is discharge/detoxification on all levels. This paradigm grew out of the last 20 or so years of practicing and teaching naturopathic medicine, and reflecting on grandma. When I analyzed what it took to regain and then maintain health, it really came down to these three things!

I encourage you to reflect on your life. Is there love in your life? Love for yourself? For the unique and essential being that you are on this beautiful planet. What is the quality of your relationships? Do you give people a chance to know you, to love you? Do you love them, and joyfully come from a place of service, blessing, and gratitude in your interactions? Do you celebrate and appreciate them for who they are? Do you celebrate? Celebration is an act of the love of life! Does your life have meaning. Living out meaning in life is an act of celebration. Without love, celebration, meaning, it is difficult to maintain good health.

How about sleep? Restoration on all levels. We heal in parasympathetic mode. When we sleep we heal. When we relax, we are capable of healing. We do not have time to heal in “flight or fight” or sympathetic mode. Most of us live our day to day life running. That’s why good sleep is so important. Do you sleep 8-10 hours each night? Do you allow for rest during the day? Smiling, laughing, acts of love and compassion, meditation, love making, good food, all of these can put us into parasympathetic mode.

Poop. Discharge on all levels. Are you constipated, do you poop everyday? This is fundamental.  Also, do you drink water, and urinate frequently. Do you sweat? Are your menstrual periods regular with a good flow? Everything that comes out from your body is a route of detoxification. Many of us “natural” folk want to “do” detoxes. Please realize that your body is detoxing every moment of your life. If you live naturally, there is no reason to “do” detoxes. We’ll discuss this topic in another blog when I talk about German Biological/Functional Medicine.

So those are the basics of love, sleep and poop. Next week, we’ll go more indepth about the love aspect. Have a great week! Here’s an exercise that hopefully will cause you to grin. In the morning look in the mirror and smile, notice how you feel when you smile, looking at yourself. Think about that, and smile often!!

Welcome to Nature Cures Doc!

Welcome to my initial blog post. My goal with my blogging is to be of service and to offer a unique perspective re: all things that have to do with holistic health care. There seem to be quite enough blogs out there rehashing studies, and telling you what supplements to take for what conditions, etc. My blog may include those things from time to time, but what makes my perspective unique is that I truly trust the wisdom of Nature. I practice nonviolent medicine which means that
1. I assume positive intent on the part of Nature. To me, this is the definition of a Vitalist.
2. I see the interrelationship and interdependence of all things, human as an ecosystem and of an ecosystem
3. When I make suggestions, it is intended to nourish and nurture the individual, so that they have the greatest chance of recovery.
4. I rarely come from the point of view that we must vanquish, kill, or eradicate disease. I think we must understand disease so that we can figure out what the individual needs in order to no longer foster the conditions that called in that disease.
5. For the most part I see most conditions that we have labeled as “disease” as the body/mind/spirit’s attempt to return the system to a homeodynamic “healthy” state, whether it’s through discharge, walling things off or increasing circulation to decrease stasis and congestion.
6. I recognize that every one of us dies, and that the preparation of each of us for that day would result in less “heroic” (i.e. high intervention) medicine. I don’t consider it “heroic” to keep a suffering body or soul going out of fear of the unknown or fear of facing loss. That said, everyone should get to choose what options are best for them.
7. Fostering joy and ecstasy in living life on this amazing planet, so that we can all reach our highest and greatest potential, in our wonderful and beautiful bodies, is the goal with my work!
I know this is not the standard way of looking at health and disease in 21st century America. I am a student of history, especially in regards to health and medicine. The conventional view of medicine is an anomaly both in history and worldwide. Because of our wealth and arrogance, we are currently imposing this conventional model on folks (especially impoverished) throughout the world. Most of the diseases of the “developing” nations could be solved by the eradication of poverty and with the salve of economic justice and self-determination. Making these nations dependent on the US pharmaceutical companies for their “health and wellbeing” and labeling their own cultural medical practices irrelevant, and “primitive” is incredibly disrespectful and naïve. We don’t need more vaccines and toxic medications, we need to restore the wealth of those nations that we have plundered throughout history. Providing immunizations, and dumping our superceded drugs on poorer nations may feel good to those arrogant, wealthy and surely well-meaning folks, but it is a short sighted, “treating the symptoms” approach.
So now you know what my perspective is, what is my product/content?! The way I see it, I have two audiences: thoughtful, politically aware natural health afficianados, and naturopathic students and young naturopathic doctors trying to stay true to their roots. I will give information and perspective on health and wellness issues, and always, always, practical affordable tips.
I am a naturopathic physician, having graduated from Bastyr University in 1992. I’ve been in practice since that time, and also have taught naturopathic and herbal students at Bastyr, members of the public, spa therapists, massage therapists, and soon, acupuncture students! See my profile at http://about.me/nwelliver

Thanks for reading! I intend to post once a week, on Mondays or Tuesdays. Next week I will discuss Health=Love, Sleep and Poop (Discharge)©.